Press Releases

Port of South Louisiana joins the SmartPort program being developed by The Water Institute, the state and partners

Jun 16, 2022

BATON ROUGE, La. (June 16, 2022) – The Port of South Louisiana has joined The Water Institute, the Port of New Orleans, and the Louisiana Economic Development as the newest partner in the Lower Mississippi River SmartPort & Resilience Center (SmartPort) being developed for the Lower Mississippi River.

The Lower Mississippi River SmartPort & Resilience Center was announced in June 2021, funded through $1.6 million federal grant to be matched with $1.4 million in matching funds from the state of Louisiana and other partners.

“The Lower Mississippi River SmartPort & Resilience Center will provide next-generation maritime technology to ports and vessels along the Mississippi River,” Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson said. “Through collaboration with ports along the Lower Mississippi River, the state, The Water Institute and numerous partners, we are able to achieve greater economic successes across Louisiana.”

The SmartPort program involves the development of a modeling tool to help forecast Mississippi River shoaling, allowing ports to be proactive in keeping their operations moving. In addition, the Real-Time Shoaling Forecast Tool will be joined with weather, river and road traffic information in a new tool that will give ports a more holistic view of transportation activities and allow them to better prepare for future challenges. A third component is the development of Resilience Dashboards for each port to better prepare for, and shorten, recovery time after disasters or disruptions occur.

“As one of America’s largest tonnage ports, the Port of South Louisiana is focused on serving the maritime needs of our resident industries. Partnering with The Water Institute and Louisiana Economic Development will allow us to apply crowd sourcing data and cutting-edge scientific analysis to a concern for vessel operators and shippers not only on the Mississippi River, but also around the world,” said Paul Matthews, Port of South Louisiana CEO. “Our better understanding of shoaling, and our ability to provide more accurate, timely and precise predictive elements to shoaling forecasts, will enhance the safety and efficiency of all the Port’s maritime endeavors.”

The SmartPort work builds on Cooperative Endeavor Agreements (CEA) initiated by Louisiana Economic Development, and The Water Institute to pilot the Real-Time Shoaling Forecast Tool. The Institute is working closely with private tug operators such as Crescent Towing, E.N. Bisso, Moran and Harbor Towing in developing tools to successfully harvest and validate depth data to inform port dredging operations. Through SmartPort, the Institute will be able to scale this successful pilot project along the Lower Mississippi River from North Louisiana to the Gulf of Mexico.

“Partnership and collaboration are the cornerstones of the SmartPort work. The formalization of the relationship between the Port of South Louisiana and the existing partners marks an important milestone in the development of this program supporting the economic resilience of Lower Mississippi River,” said Robert Landry, senior advisor at The Water Institute. “We are grateful to the Port of South Louisiana for its leadership in, and financial commitment to, this important maritime project.”